FIND SOMETHNG OF INTERESTListening leaders are searchers and seekers. They cultivate a listening habit of curiosity. Although they recognize the simple reality, ‘We cannot listen to all people talk on all things at all times,” productive listeners are careful not to turn off their listening prematurely. They listen optimistically and seek to share the speaker’s enthusiasm for and interest in the subject. Ineffective listeners prejudge certain topics as boring or uninteresting, and quickly tune them out. Skilled listeners realize that no matter how dull the subject may appear at first glance, it may contain valuable “nuggets of gold.”

Effective listeners are selfish in the best sense of the word. They understand and utilize the Value Moment of Listening (VM of L) reality. It has been said, “If you want one ounce of gold, you discard 200,000 tons of rubble. If you want one karat of flawless diamond, you also throw away 200,000 tons of rock. If you want the oil, you have to discard the sludge. If you want the wheat, you must separate the chaff.” In listening, you will never find the value moments until you fully listen. So the searchers and seekers are constantly listening for messages and ideas of interest. They ask, “What’s in it for me?” “How can I relate this message to something I’m already interested in, and how can I use it?” Poor listeners prematurely tune out speakers, and may carelessly lose opportunities for personal growth or for new perspectives. There is a great difference between the behaviors of listening leaders and poor listeners when they are confronted with supposedly dry, dull, and boring material.

Andrew Carnegie, a self-made steel tycoon and one of the wealthiest 19th century U.S. businessmen firmly believed, “When you mine gold, you don’t go into the mountain looking for dirt. You look for gold, no matter how small, or how much dirt you have to push aside.” This single consideration, the factor and habit of interest, distinguishes the behavior of effective listeners and provides many clues for methods of improving your own listening behaviors. You must be aware of your behavior when your interest is at a low level. If you continually catch yourself calling a topic, speaker, or presentation dry, dull, boring, or uninteresting, you are moving toward the habitual behavior of poor listeners. If you consistently behave in an uninterested manner, you will consistently hear less, process less, understand less, evaluate less, and respond less to potentially valuable messages.”

A perfect example of expressing interest in others was highlighted by Dale Carnegie in his popular book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, which has sold more than 10 million copies and continues to reinforce the importance of listening. Reflecting on the constant interest and attention displayed by his childhood dog, Tippy, Carnegie made the important observation, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” As Carnegie noted, “Most people are not interested in you. They are not interested in me. They are interested in themselves—morning, noon, and evening.”


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